Schenectady City School District                                                                                   2006 - 2007

Central Park Middle School


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Central Park
Middle School

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MTV Celebrity Jeff Yaldin Captures Student Attention  with Life Experiences, Stories

MTV celebrity and internationally renowned youth motivational speaker Jeff Yalden spoke with Central Park Middle School students on Thursday, December 14.  The teen life coach captured the attention of every student in the filled auditorium, as he shared his life experiences as a man, father and son and how he overcame many obstacles.  While he added humor and drama to his on stage story-telling, he got his message across.

Yalden, the father of two teenage girls, told the students he was there to speak “with” them not at them.  “I’m just a fat, bald, guy,” said the author and popular speaker who appears in the MTV Made series, a show that follows teens who seek self-improvement. 

He shared childhood and teenage experiences of living with an alcoholic father who wasn’t there for him as a kid and dramatically explained how his life had changed once he graduated high school and was left to take care of himself.

The kids listened carefully as Yalden re-enacted the day he came home -  at the age of 18 -  to find his belongings spread across the front lawn of his family home.  “My father said to me, ‘you don’t live here no more,’ Yalden told the quiet audience.  “I was left with nothing but a dream.  I had no money and no place to go,” he continued.

“We all have obstacles in our lives,” said Yalden. “But you do the best you can.”  He insisted, “I want you to be better than all of us – better than your parents, teachers and coaches.  If you do well, you will be happy.”

Throughout his presentation, Yalden shared stories about his day to day experiences with his daughters, his autistic nephew and others - - often drawing laughs and roars but never losing the attention of his adolescent audience.

Yalden gave the kids some rules to follow.  “No matter what you do, you must do the right thing and follow your heart,” he said.  “Rule number one, do what’s right.” 

“Always do your best,” Yalden told the kids.  “If you commit to being your best, your grades will take care of themselves.   He encouraged the kids to work hard in school and to never settle.  “If you settle in school, you settle in your relationships,” he said.  If you settle in a relationship, you settle in life.”   

“We say the problems today are drugs, alcohol, bullying, pressure,” said Yalden.  “Those aren’t the problems.  Those are issues.  The problem is acceptance.”  Yalden went on to say that just because someone is different, doesn’t mean we should treat them differently.  “We should treat others with respect,” said Yalden.

Yalden told the students that when they give respect, they get respect.  He gave examples of manners everyone should use.  “My mother taught me thank you, no thank you, please, your welcome, yes sir, yes ma’am, excuse me…."

Last, Yalden told the kids to always surround themselves with good people and to each be a good person.  “You can’t change who your parents are even if you would like, but, you can be a better parent than your own.”  He encouraged all of the students to try to be the best person each could be.  “Hard work will produce great results,” said Yalden.  “And take time to think,” he said -  the same words found on the white bracelets Yalden sells for $2 which benefit the National Autism Society.

He shared moving stories from  his life including the day that his wife was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  “The full cup was emptied,” he said as he poured a cup of water on the stage floor.

“The cup will fill a little,” he said as he poured water back into the cup and explained his wife is now cancer free. 

“My sister was a flight attendant and was scheduled to be lead attendant on United Airlines flight 175 on September 11, 2001,” he said sadly.  Yalden’s sister switched shifts with her best friend who in turn died on Flight 175 – the second plane that was hijacked to strike the World Trade Center.  “My sister felt responsible for her friend’s death,” said Yaldin.  “She felt so guilty, she took her own life.” 

Yalden emptied his cup again and told the group, “your cup will empty and fill over and over throughout your life.”  

“Your family will fill your cup,” he said.  “Not just your home family but your friends and the people you wish were your family.”

He also told the students there is no cap on one’s potential. 

The former two-time Marine of the Year and Mr. New Hampshire Male America has authored six books including They Call Me Coach, Keep it Simple:  A Teenager’s Handbook for Life, Traits of a Leader, 20 Ways to Keep it Simple and Pathway to Purpose.  He co-authored Lead Now or Step Aside and is a contributing author of the New York Times Bestseller, A Cup of Chicken Soup for the Soul. 

Yalden said the proceeds of his book sales go to charity.






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